UK Towing Capacity Guide: What Can Your Car Tow? (2023)

A trailer can come in handy, whether you're hauling a trailer to the edge, a camper to the holiday park, or a car to the race track. But it's important to make sure you do it safely and legally.

Regardless of what you have behind you, towing is all about weight: how much your car can tow, how much it weighs, and how much you can legally tow based on your license.

To help you figure it all out, we've put together this guide on towing capacity and all the relevant weights.

>Read the Parkers Guide to Motorhomes

What does towing capacity mean?

Most cars have a maximum weight that can be towed safely and legally. The first thing you should do is make sure that what you intend to tow does not exceed the maximum authorized mass (MAM) of the trailer itself or the maximum towing capacity of the car; these numbers should be easy to find in the individual driver's manual.

Haygenerally the maximum trailer weights that will be specified: one towing weight locked and one without brake. It is important to note that if the weight of the trailer exceeds 750 kg or more than half the car's tare weight (this is the weight of the car without people or luggage inside and should be listed in the manual), the trailer must be equipped with brakes.

  • You can also go to our specifications pages to find the weight of your vehicle, as well as the weight of the trailer with and without brakes.

The second important thing to note is that the maximum capacity will also include the weight of the trailer/caravan/horse itself, so you'll need to add that to the equation when thinking about how much weight you can carry. You can buy trailer scales that will measure the total weight for you, and it's just as important to make sure the load is evenly distributed to avoid overloading a given tire.

The MAM of a caravan can be called MTPLM, which stands for Technically Permissible Maximum Load Mass. This is the maximum weight that a caravan can weigh with all its luggage and furniture on board.

How can I find out the towing capacity of my car?

The easiest way to find out the towing capacity of the car is to consult the manual; it should appear there. However, this may not be possible as sometimes cars have different towing capacities depending on their specifications or you may have misplaced the manual.

To be sure, you can also find the towing capacity.na VIN plate (Vehicle Identification Number). It is usually located at the bottom of the passenger side windshield or on the body of the car around the passenger door frame.

UK Towing Capacity Guide: What Can Your Car Tow? (1)

(Video) What are the new rules for towing a trailer or caravan with a car?

There will be four weights there: the gross vehicle weight, or GVW, the gross train weight (the maximum amount the car and trailer can weigh together), and the maximum front and rear axle loads.

To calculate the towing capacity of your car, subtract the first value, the MAM, from the second, the gross weight of the train.

Can I tow a trailer with my license?

The short answer is yes: anyone can tow a trailer, even if they've only passed a standard car driving test. However, the precise details differ depending on when your license was issued. The law also changed in December 2021, which means you can tow more than you previously thought.

If you passed the test on or after January 1, 1997

In December 2021, the law changed to allow younger drivers more freedom when towing larger items, essentially eliminating the need to obtain a separate B+E certification for towing large trailers.

> It is allowed to tow a trailer of up to 3,500 kg MAM

This was an increase from a maximum of 750kg before the changes. Licenses will be updated when renewed to show the new BE level.

However, these changes do not apply if your license was issued in Northern Ireland. If you did, the above rules still apply:

> It is allowed to drive a car or van up to 3,500 kg of maximum authorized mass (MAM) with a trailer of up to 750 kg MAM

> You are allowed to tow a trailer of more than 750 kg GWM, as long as the combined GWM of the trailer and tow vehicle does not exceed 3,500 kg

Licenses issued before January 1, 1997

If you obtained your driver's license before January 1, 1997, you will be able to drive a wide range of vehicle and trailer combinations.

> Can generally drive a vehicle and trailer combination up to 8,250 kg MAM

> You can also drive a minibus with a trailer of more than 750 kg MAM

(Video) UK new towing rules 2021 explained

Check exactly which driving license you havegov.ukdiscover more.

Do I need training before towing?

Although your license now allows you to tow larger items, that doesn't make it easy or safe to do so right away. Driver training companies even offer trailer towing training, and this can be valuable to you, especially if you want to tow something big like a two-axle camper or car transport truck.

Cars behave very differently when towed, and even slow maneuvers like reversing can be tricky if you're inexperienced. Therefore, driver training is something we definitely recommend, even if it is no longer a legal requirement.

Can I tow a caravan?

The first question to answer when determining if you can go on a caravan holiday is "how much does a caravan weigh?"

The answer can vary a lot, from around 400kg to over 2500kg, but the weight of a caravan is often indicated on a plate inside, next to the door frame or similar, or in the manual.

If it's not there or you don't have the manual, the manufacturer can help you. If you're still not sure, you can buy a portable RV scale and measure it at home.

UK Towing Capacity Guide: What Can Your Car Tow? (2)

However, to be sure, it is best to go to yourlocal scale.These are normally privately owned and there will be a fee to use them.

It's important to remember that the total weight should include the people in the car and the luggage in the trailer, so if you've weighed the empty trailer, you should take that into account before you travel.

If you're a couple taking a short break, then you're in a different situation than a family of five lugging loads of suitcases, toys, bikes, and the kitchen sink (or two) for another week. or less.

If your combined weight is close to the limit, or your camper is close to your car's maximum towing capacity, then it's worth picking up the scales and doing the math so you don't go overboard.

When it comes to choosing a car that can tow a caravan, generally a car that can tow 2000kg or more will do the job, although it's worth checking the precise towing capacity of the car in question.

(Video) Four towing weight examples - explained!

Examples include theBMW Series 5 Touringmibe sportive. For heavier two-axle caravans, larger 4x4s orvansyou will be up for the task. Examples of these include theLand Rover Discovery(weight of the blocked trailer 3,500 kg),volvo xc90(2.700kg) yForest ranger(3.500kg).

I want to tow garbage to the dump

If you're cleaning up and looking to haul a trailer to and from the local dump, a small trailer with no brakes is probably right for this. Most small hatchbacks are capable of pulling a trailer weighing around 500kg, including cars like theMini HatchbackmiFord Fiesta.

If you want to transport slightly heavier goods, cars like theVolkswagen GolfmiSkoda KaroqThey offer a braked towing capacity of up to 1,400 kg.

Do not forget that if the trailer weighs more than 750 kg, it must be equipped with brakes.

I want to transport heavy mechanical equipment between places of business

Anything over 2,000kg and the list of suitable cars starts to shrink and up to 3,500kg shrinks further. Below is a list of conventional cars that can tow 3,500 kg:

  • Land Rover Defensor
  • Land Rover Discovery
  • Jeep Grand Cherokee
  • bmw x6
  • Ssang Yong Rexton
  • Toyota land cruiser
  • range rover
  • Mercedes-Benz G-Class
  • volkswagen tuareg

You may also consider avan. There are several trucks that will be able to tow 3,500 kg, although not all. EITHERtoyota hilux,Isuzu D-MaxmiSsang Yong Mussothey are capable of towing a maximum of 3,500 kg, while others are capable of doing so if you choose the right model.

When towing for business, if the total weight of the vehicle and trailer is more than 3,500 kg, a tachograph must be installed. Most truck manufacturers offer a tachograph as an inexpensive option and it is used to automatically record speed and distance traveled along with driving activity.

I want to tow a box of horses

Horses come in all shapes and sizes, and average weights can range from 200kg for a small pony to 1000kg for a Shire. Horse trucks also vary greatly in weight, so it's important to have an accurate estimate of what needs to be hauled before you begin.

In any case, we recommend using a vehicle with a towing capacity greater than 2,000 kg.

I want to tow a car

Like horses, cars come in all shapes and sizes, from the 600kg of a classic Mini to the 2,500kg of many modern electric vehicles and SUVs. Car trailers also vary greatly in weight, so it's important to have an accurate estimate of what needs to be towed before you begin.

UK Towing Capacity Guide: What Can Your Car Tow? (3)

In any case, we recommend using a vehicle with a towing capacity greater than 2,500 kg.

(Video) How Much Can I Tow. Towing Capacity explained

Important points to keep in mind when towing

  • >The maximum speed when towing is 60 km/h on motorways and dual carriageways and 80 km/h on single lane roads.
  • >The maximum width of a trailer must not exceed 2.55 m.
  • >The length of a trailer must not exceed 7 m.
  • >If the trailer is wider than the car you want to drive, rear view mirrors must be installed.
  • >If you install a tow bar on your vehicle, it must comply with EU regulations and be designed for use with that car.
  • >If you've never towed before, it's always a good idea to practice as much as possible; especially reversing and parking with an attached trailer
  • >You must display the same license plate number on your trailer as on your tow truck. If you tow more than one trailer at a time, attach the plate to the trailer at the rear.
  • >You can be fined up to £2,500 and have three points added to your license if you are found to be using your car in a dangerous condition. Learn more atgov.uk

Trailer FAQ

Can you tow with an automatic car?

Yes, you can tow a car with an automatic transmission; You don't need a manual transmission to tow a trailer. Modern automatic gearboxes often have a manual mode that allows you to keep the car in a certain gear at times if you find it necessary for certain maneuvers.

The maximum towing capacities for an automatic or manual gearbox may differ slightly from each other, but the difference is usually marginal. In some cases, the maximum trailer weight can be even higher for the automatic transmission, making it a more flexible option. This is certainly the case, for example, with the manual andDSG versionfor Skoda Kodiaq.

How much does a caravan weigh?

There is a wide variation in the weight of a caravan, with small or micro caravans having MAMs up to 400kg, while the largest four bed weighs around 2500kg.

Most caravans are in the 1000kg to 2000kg range, however there are many around the 1500kg mark.

How much does an average car weigh?

If you look up the weight of a car, you'll find two weights listed: the vehicle's gross weight and its total weight. The latter is the one relevant for the calculation of the towing capacity and includes all the necessary liquids (sometimes a full fuel tank), but not the passengers. Sometimes a manufacturer lists a controller, giving a nominal weight of 75 kg.

For reference, a Ford Focus has a total weight of between approximately 1,300kg and 1,600kg, while a Land Rover Discovery weighs just under 2,500kg.

What does the weight of the locked trailer mean?

Braked trailer weight refers to the maximum amount a car can tow if the trailer in question has its own brakes. If you have your own brakes you can weigh more than if you don't - the heaviest brakeless trailer that can be legally towed is 750kg.

Be sure to check out ourcars for sale sectionfor the latest deals on new and used cars. And when you come to sell your current car, make sure you get one.free car checkwith us to make sure you get the right price.

Further reading:

>>The best cars to tow

>>The best trucks for towing

>>towing laws

>> Are you thinking of buying your new car with financing?Visit our finance section for a quote

(Video) Towing Guide Part 1 - Safely matching your car to the load

FAQs

How much can I tow with my car UK? ›

What changed on 16 December 2021. If you passed your car driving test from 1 January 1997, you're now allowed to tow trailers up to 3,500kg MAM . Check your car's handbook to find out its gross train weight (GTW). This is the total allowable weight of the car plus the trailer plus the load.

How do you work out what my car can tow? ›

To calculate the maximum weight your car can tow, all you need to do is subtract the gross vehicle weight (GVW) from the gross train weight (GTW). This is the absolute maximum weight your vehicle can tow.

How much weight can I tow with my car? ›

The law changed on 16th December 2021, enabling all drivers who passed their test after January 1st 1997 to tow trailers up to 3,500kg MAM (Maximum Authorised Mass).

What is the 80/20 rule for towing? ›

The 80/20 towing rule is a safety measure many RVers follow. Basically, the rule states that you shouldn't tow above 80% of your max towing capacity. This gives room for human error in calculations. It also protects the life of your vehicle by not pushing it to the max every time you tow your trailer.

What are the new towing laws UK 2022? ›

If you need to tow a load that's heavier than what your standard licence allows, you will need to hold a category C1E licence - this allows you to drive medium-sized vehicles between 3,500 and 7,500kg MAM (with a trailer up to 750kg). The combined MAM of both must not exceed 12,000kg.

What vehicle can tow 40000 lbs? ›

2023 Ford Super Duty Can Tow up to 40,000 Pounds with as Much as 1200 LB-FT. Ford's heavy-duty pickup-truck lineup features a new 6.8-liter gas V-8 and handily out-tows its competition from Chevrolet and Ram.

What is the 85% rule for towing? ›

For safe towing it is recommended by many towing experts that a novice should keep the fully laden weight of the caravan no heavier than 85% of the kerbweight of the tow car. This is known as the 85% rule. Bear in mind that it is a guide and not legally enforceable.

Does mileage count when towing a car? ›

Bottom Line: Using a tow dolly with front-wheel drive vehicles should not add mileage to the odometer of your vehicle. If you dolly tow a vehicle with rear-wheel drive then, yes, you may be adding mileage to the odometer of your vehicle.

Is GVWR what I can tow? ›

GVWR vs Towing Capacity

GVWR is the maximum weight capacity of a vehicle without a trailer attached. Towing capacity, on the other hand, is the maximum weight capacity of the vehicle, specifically in terms of how heavy of a trailer it can tow.

What happens if you tow something too heavy for your car? ›

Max towing capacity should not be taken lightly. Exceeding what your vehicle is designed to tow can strain your engine and transmission, accelerate brake wear, damage your tires and even warp your chassis. This could in turn trigger catastrophic failure while driving and could lead to property damage or serious injury.

Does towing capacity include trailer weight? ›

Gross Combined Vehicle Weight Rating is the maximum weight of your tow vehicle and trailer combined, both loaded with all cargo. The tow vehicle and trailer each have their own separate GVWR numbers, which, combined, make up the GCWR.

What vehicles can tow 15000 pounds? ›

Heavy hitters for some serious towing.
  • GMC Sierra 2500.
  • Ram 2500.
  • Ford F-250.
  • GMC Sierra 3500.
  • Chevrolet Silverado 3500.
  • Ford F-350.
  • Ram 3500.
Jul 18, 2021

How many miles break in before towing? ›

NO TOWING FOR AT LEAST 500 MILES

You shouldn't use your truck to pull a trailer until it has at least 500 miles under its belt. Check your manual, because some truck manufacturers don't recommend towing with it until at least 1,000 miles.

What should you not do when towing? ›

Top 8 Mistakes People Make While Towing
  1. Overworking Your Engine. The number one mistake people make, by far, is overworking their tow vehicle. ...
  2. Wrong Weight Distribution Bars. ...
  3. Not Checking or Maintaining Brakes. ...
  4. Poorly Loaded Vehicles. ...
  5. Wrong Ball/Ball Mount. ...
  6. 6. “ ...
  7. Low-Pressure Tires. ...
  8. Not Lubing Your Components.

Can you drive faster than 45 mph when towing a trailer? ›

Manufactured, modular, or mobile homes must not be transported at a speed in excess of 10 miles below the maximum posted speed limit when the maximum posted speed limit is in excess of 45 mph, and never in excess of 55 mph. A person driving a vehicle towing a house trailer must not drive faster than 45 mph.

What's the longest trailer you can tow in UK? ›

Width and length

The maximum trailer width for any towing vehicle is 2.55 metres. The maximum length for a trailer towed by a vehicle weighing up to 3,500kg is 7 metres. This length does not include the A-frame.

What happens if you get caught towing a trailer without a license UK? ›

On average cars weigh around 2,000 kg meaning that drivers don't have much extra room to accommodate for the weight of the caravan and its contents. Any driver caught towing a caravan or trailer which exceeds these maximum values can face a hefty £1,000 fine and three penalty points in the UK.

What is the UK speed limit when towing a trailer? ›

National speed limits
Built-up areas mph ( km/h )
Cars, motorcycles, car-derived vans and dual-purpose vehicles30 (48)
Cars, motorcycles, car-derived vans and dual-purpose vehicles when towing caravans or trailers30 (48)
Motorhomes or motor caravans (not more than 3.05 tonnes maximum unladen weight)30 (48)
6 more rows

What cars can pull 5000 pounds? ›

Towing 5,000 Pounds
  • 2022 Acura MDX. $48,000.
  • 2022 Buick Enclave. $42,800.
  • 2022 Chevrolet Traverse. $33,700.
  • 2022 Honda Pilot. $38,080.
  • 2022 Hyundai Palisade. $33,600.
  • 2022 Kia Telluride. $33,390.
  • 2022 Subaru Ascent. $32,795.
  • 2022 Toyota 4Runner. $38,105.

What is the biggest truck I can drive without a CDL? ›

In the United States, a box truck can be rented by someone without a commercial driver's license (CDL) license if it has a gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) of 26,000 pounds or less. A vehicle's GVWR is the most amount it can weight—including cargo—and still be operational.

What vehicles can tow 4000 lbs? ›

Best Trucks for Maximum Towing Capacity
  • Ford Maverick | 4000 pounds. VIEW PHOTOS. ...
  • Hyundai Santa Cruz | 5000 pounds. VIEW PHOTOS. ...
  • Honda Ridgeline | 5000 pounds. VIEW PHOTOS. ...
  • Nissan Frontier | 6720 pounds. VIEW PHOTOS. ...
  • Toyota Tacoma | 6800 pounds. ...
  • Ford Ranger | 7500 pounds. ...
  • GMC Hummer EV | 7500 pounds. ...
  • Jeep Gladiator | 7650 pounds.
Sep 23, 2022

What is the 85% towing rule? ›

For safe towing it is recommended by many towing experts that a novice should keep the fully laden weight of the caravan no heavier than 85% of the kerbweight of the tow car. This is known as the 85% rule. Bear in mind that it is a guide and not legally enforceable.

What cars can tow up to 5000 lbs? ›

Towing 5,000 Pounds
  • 2022 Acura MDX. $48,000.
  • 2022 Buick Enclave. $42,800.
  • 2022 Chevrolet Traverse. $33,700.
  • 2022 Honda Pilot. $38,080.
  • 2022 Hyundai Palisade. $33,600.
  • 2022 Kia Telluride. $33,390.
  • 2022 Subaru Ascent. $32,795.
  • 2022 Toyota 4Runner. $38,105.

What is maximum towing speed UK? ›

What speed can you drive at when towing a caravan? When towing a caravan, you can drive at a maximum speed of 50 mph on single carriageway roads. This is increased to 60 mph on dual carriageways and motorways, unless a lower limit is in force.

What vehicles can tow over 3000 lbs? ›

  • 2022 Subaru Outback XT: 3,500-Pound Towing Capacity. ...
  • 2022 Volvo V90 Cross Country: 3,500-Pound Towing Capacity. ...
  • 2022 Chrysler Pacifica: 3,600-Pound Towing Capacity. ...
  • 2022 Mercedes-Benz Metris: 5,000-Pound Towing Capacity. ...
  • 2022 BMW X7: 7,500-Pound Towing Capacity. ...
  • 2022 Mercedes-Benz GLE: 7,700-Pound Towing Capacity.
Mar 8, 2022

What happens if you exceed maximum towing capacity? ›

Max towing capacity should not be taken lightly. Exceeding what your vehicle is designed to tow can strain your engine and transmission, accelerate brake wear, damage your tires and even warp your chassis. This could in turn trigger catastrophic failure while driving and could lead to property damage or serious injury.

Can you go a little over towing capacity? ›

It is crucial that you never even attempt to tow a GTW higher than your towing capacity. While it might be technically possible to carry the load, you're likely to damage the tow vehicle, the trailer, or both and not control the vehicle properly.

Is it OK to tow at max capacity? ›

Manufacturers will stress that you should never exceed your car or truck's towing capacity. We would add that, for safety reasons, it's best to never come within 10% of that total.

What midsize SUV can tow 6000 lbs? ›

2022 Nissan Pathfinder Max Towing Capacity: 6,000 pounds. Average Tow Rating Across All Models: 5,444 pounds. 2022 Ford Explorer Max Towing Capacity: 5,600 pounds. Average Tow Rating Across All Models: 5,375 pounds.

What small trucks have the highest towing capacity? ›

Top Small Truck Towing Capacity
  • Honda Ridgeline: 1,500 – 5,000 lbs.
  • Nissan Frontier: 6,250 – 6,720 lbs.
  • Toyota Tacoma: 3,500 lbs – 6,800 lbs.
  • Chevrolet Colorado: 3,500 lbs – 7,000 lbs.
  • GMC Canyon: 3,500 – 7,000 lbs.
  • Ford Ranger: 3,500 – 7,500 lbs.
  • Jeep Gladiator: 4,000 – 7,650 lbs.

What is the speed limit for a motorhome towing a car? ›

On a motorway or dual-carriageway where the limit for a car is 70mph, then drive at 60mph to stay the right side of the law while towing. On a single-carriageway with a 60mph maximum for cars, you should tow at no more than 50mph to stay legal.

What is the maximum legal speed when towing a trailer? ›

The maximum speed for a car towing a trailer is 90kph.

Cars are not designed for towing. They have towing ability, but it is not their main function, therefore when they are towing a trailer the handling and braking performance is reduced.

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